Medical corner: Mosquitoes can spoil summer fun

  • Published
  • By Public HealthOffice
  • 71st Medical Operations Squadron
Whether you enjoy backyard barbecues or backpacking, cycling or just sitting by the pool, summer is the time to enjoy the outdoors. And nothing spoils the fun faster than that tiny creature known as the mosquito. 

Not only are mosquitoes a nuisance, but they also can carry diseases that pose a threat to your family's health. 

More than 2,500 species thrive worldwide and 200 can be found in the United States alone, according to a study by Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. Mosquitoes can live anywhere, from salt marshes to stagnant water, and they are often found in urban areas. 

Mosquitoes feed on nectar and other sugary sources. Most female mosquitoes also require blood meals and some will fly for miles to find it. Mosquitoes use carbon dioxide, moisture, color and movement to help locate their prey. 

Mosquitoes are especially active at dusk and dawn with some species biting through the night. Some kinds of mosquitoes even bite during the day, especially on cloudy days and in shady areas. 

There are a number of things you can do to help avoid mosquito bites and control the number of mosquitoes in and around your home. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these tips: 

· When possible, wear long sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors.
· Consider staying indoors at dawn, dusk and in the early evening, which are peak mosquito biting times.
· Use an insect repellent containing DEET to help reduce exposure to mosquitoes.
· Spray clothes with repellent containing permethrin or DEET for extra protection. Don't apply repellents containing permethrin directly to skin. Do not spray repellents containing DEET on the skin under your clothing.
· Place mosquito netting over infant carriers when outdoors.
· Install or repair window and door screens so mosquitoes cannot get indoors.
· Once or twice a week, empty water from flower pots, pet food and water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, buckets, barrels, outdoor toys and cans.
· Limit the number of places mosquitoes can breed by getting rid of items that hold water, such as old tires, tin cans, buckets, drums or bottles.
· Check for clogged rain gutters and clean them out. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics generally recommends maximum DEET concentrations of 30 percent for children and infants older than 2 months of age. Lower concentrations are not as long lasting, requiring more frequent reapplication. 

Repellent products that do not contain DEET are not likely to offer the same degree of protection from mosquito bites as products containing DEET. 

No serious illness has arisen from use of DEET when used according to the manufacturer's recommendations, according to the CDC. It is generally agreed DEET should not be applied more than once a day. 

The CDC recommendations for DEET use in pregnant women do not differ from those for non-pregnant adults. 

When applying repellent product to children:
· Apply it to your own hands and then rub on your child. Avoid the child's eyes and mouth and apply sparingly around the ears.
· Do not apply repellent to children's hands. They tend to put their hands in their mouths. 

The Vance Public Health office will be trapping mosquitoes from May through September. Traps will be set up overnight in dim light and low lying water areas on base. Trapping is done to track the species of mosquito in the area and potential disease they can transmit.